The 1980’s are a conundrum, it feels both like yesterday and a million years ago. It was a different world back then. Cell phones were not really a thing, TV selection was slim and there was absolutely no social media. It is a wonder how kids survived back in the day. Well, they survived by playing with toys.
Toys were a much larger part of the kid culture back in the 80’s, as there were no screens to occupy children. Kids today still play with toys, but if given the choice, a lot of them would rather watch or play on a tablet. Times change, and even if we look at the types of toys available in the 80’s we can see how much they have changed.
Remember going to the mall and begging mom for a toy? There was always that toy that every kid had to have, and parents would have no problem spending the money to indulge their little one. It turns out, the toys of the 80’s were not very safe or appropriate.
There were a lot of toys that came about in the 80’s that were banned for numerous reasons. Then there were the toys that were just not appealing and never stayed on the shelf very long, and not because they were being sold out. Either way, we have 25 toys from the 80’s that are just not allowed anymore.
25 Slap Bracelets
Slap bracelets bring back a lot of memories for a lot of people out there. They were one of the hit things to have in the 80’s and even peaked into the 90’s as well. They were also cheap, which caused mom and dad to happily spend their money on them. These seemingly harmless fashion accessories were eventually pulled from the shelf because they were dangerous.
These bracelets were essentially a metal band that had a fabric covering over it. When you ‘slapped’ it against your wrist, it would coil around making the bracelet. It did not take long for the fabric covering to wear away and the metal would start cutting into the wrists of a lot of children.
24 Monster Science Colossal Water Balls
Children are fascinated by science and magic. This popular toy was a little bit of both and it fascinated children all over. Monster Science Colossal Water Balls (or water balls for short) were very popular among children. They were small capsules that when placed in water would expand to be about 400 times its original size. Sounds pretty cool.
Unfortunately, they would also do this when ingested. There were reports of children swallowing these capsules, and because the inside of our bodies is liquid, they were expanding inside. These did not show up on any X-rays either and required surgery to remove.
23 Aqua Dots
Many would think that the simple solution to some of these problems would be to teach children not to put small things in their mouth. If anyone thinks it is that easy, they do not have children. Children are notorious for putting things in their mouth and swallowing, and parents cannot watch them every second of every day. Hence the problem with this toy as well.
Aqua dots were small beads that when arranged into a design and sprayed with water, they sealed in place. It seemed like a great way for children to explore their creativity. The oversight came when this company made these dots with a slightly toxic paint and plastic. Something not meant to be ingested.
22 Kite Tube
This one may be a little bit unfair because we don’t know what adult would buy their young child this toy, but maybe they bought it for themselves or their teenagers. The Kite Tube was a small inflatable boat that would be pulled by a much bigger boat. It had a cord that the rider would yank which would send them flying up in the air. This just seems like a bad idea.
The problem was, there was nothing the rider could do to control the craft once they were up in the air. It only had a couple handgrips to prevent the rider from flying off. Unfortunately, this toy resulted in a lot of injuries before it was eventually pulled from the shelf.
21 Snacktime Doll
I don’t know if any toy is more popular than the Cabbage Patch doll. Parents would line up for hours to try and get their hands on one of these, so they could surprise their little darling at home. There was nothing wrong with the actual doll, but the company tried to make a variation and it proved to be a big mistake.
They came up with the snack-time doll, which was a more interactive version of the doll that would chew little pieces of plastic food. This would make it seem like a child was feeding the doll. The problem was, this doll could not tell the difference between plastic food and little fingers. Curious children started sticking their fingers in the mouths and were getting a bite in return.
20 Bucky Balls
Bucky balls were aimed at older children, or children with a scientific mind who loved to build. They were small little black marble-like toys that acted as very strong magnets. Children could place them together and they would stick, allowing them to create a lot of different shapes and designs.
We have another swallowing problem, children were swallowing these. On purpose or by accident we are unsure, but we can see how swallowing strong magnet balls would be problematic. Once more than one of these were swallowed, they stuck together and would become lodged in the body. Something else that would require surgery to retrieve.
19 CSI Fingerprint Examination Kit
Some children dream of becoming a detective like they see on TV. TV and movies can make it all look so romantic, solving the big case and catching the bad guy. This love prompted a lot of toys aimed at that kind of following. The CSI fingerprint examination kit was a hit for every young detective out there, and they had to have it.
This kit came with everything one would need to test some fingerprints, including a black dust that you see the pros use to capture the print. The problem was this black powder was actually one of the worst forms of asbestos. The dust actually contained up to 7% of this substance, and kids were just slathering it on everything, trying to catch the bad guy.
18 Splash Off Water Rockets
For some reason, when I hear the word ‘rocket’ in the name of a children’s toy I get a little worried. I think about my children’s health as well as my home which may be destroyed. The Splash Off Water Rocket was a huge hit in the 80’s, but it had its dangers.
This water rocket used water pressure from a hose to build up enough energy that when a kid stepped on the launcher, it would fly up in the air. Or, at least that's what it was supposed to do. There were multiple reports of the rocket exploding from the pressure or flying off in other directions unpredictably.
17 Aqua Leisure Baby Boats
Baby boats are still around, but it is widely known that they should not be used without adult supervision. A parent should never take their eyes off of their children when they are using them. Unfortunately, no matter how much mom and dad watched their child in this specific baby boat, disaster could still strike.
The Aqua Leisure Baby Boat, brand specific, was dangerous. The company was fined $650,000 for the defect that they apparently knew about. These boats were made with fabric that was so cheap, the bottom of the boat would tear, and the baby would fall right through into the water. That is a scary situation no parent wants to be in.
16 Easy Bake Ovens
This is another toy that was so well-loved, stores couldn’t keep them on their shelf for very long. Parents were very eager to buy their child this toy. It seems perfect, when your child is hungry, they can easily make themselves their own snack using the power of a lightbulb. This oven is still available today, but it is nothing like the model that was made in the 80’s.
Over one million ovens were recalled because they were burning little fingers. These ovens could reach temperatures of up to 200 degrees Celsius (400 degrees Fahrenheit). There was a severe design flaw in the model which would trap the little fingers in the oven, causing some pretty serious burns.
Clackers are one of those toys when you just have to hear the name and you can immediately hear the sound they made. Clackers were a very simple concept, they were two hard balls attached to the end of a string, and when moved in the right way they would make this ‘clack’ sound. Seems pretty simple.
The problem was these were weapons. OK, not literally, but they seemed to be. Children were getting injured by these heavy acrylic balls hitting their hands and even their faces are they had them close enough. They do make something similar now, but they are made of light plastic and they are on a stick which is a lot easier to control that a piece of string.
Jarts seemed like a fun activity for the whole family. A good toy that could be taken outside so that the whole crew could enjoy some fresh air. Jarts was a popular version of a lawn dart game. The game came with darts, and hoops and the aim was to throw your dart into the hoop that was laying on the grass.
These were banned in 1988, and it was advised that if any family owned Jarts that it should be destroyed right away. Seems pretty serious. Well, it was. In a span of 8 years, 6, 1000 people were sent to the emergency room due to injuries related to this game. 81% of that number were all children under the age of 15.
13 Moon Shoes
I remember Moon Shoes, but I remember most that I was not allowed to have them. I was very upset that my mom would not buy me these awesome looking shoes. I guess I should be thanking her. Moon shoes may have looked cool, but they had the potential to be very dangerous.
These were essentially trampolines for your feet. Children would place their feet in the little straps and they could bounce around, and it would give them the feeling of being on the moon. We don’t know how close these shoes actually felt to being on the moon, but they could hurt you. There was simply not enough support for your feet, they were only held on by pieces of vinyl fabric and snaps. Children could easily have sprained or broken an ankle while using these.
12 The Pogo-Ball
This toy seemed to solve the problem of one of life’s most intriguing mysteries, how to balance on a ball. Apparently, children of the 80’s really wanted to be able to balance on a ball, so they introduced the Pogo-Ball. The Pogo-Ball was essentially a Pogo-stick without a handle to hold onto. Children would put their feet on the sides and try and hold themselves up while balancing on a ball.
Now, there was nothing about this toy that was going to harm a child, but the lack of support meant that there were multiple injuries from children using this toy. No one wants to buy their child a toy that could hurt them.
11 Wham-O Slip N’ Slide
Who doesn’t love a good Slip N’ Slide? These were great on those hot summer days when we all needed a fun activity to cool off. These looked like a lot of fun in all the TV commercials and on all of the packaging, but they could actually be quite painful. The aim was simple, children and adults would hurl themselves down a slippery lane to a pool of water at the end.
This was normally done on a very hard surface and it caused a lot of spinal injuries. The bright side was that these injuries seemed to only happen to teens and adults, so the packaging was changed so that only children were allowed to use these.
10 Hang 10 Mini Hammocks
Hammocks are a great place to relax. They are comfortable and perfect to hang in the backyard or at the cottage when someone wants to just relax with a good book. Children love them too and it seemed like the perfect compromise. Parents would buy them for their children, and then they would get to enjoy them too.
Even better was when the Hang 10 Mini Hammocks were introduced. These were smaller hammocks that could be hung next to a larger one, so kid and adult could all relax together. These smaller versions became a big problem.
We are going to switch gears here a little bit and talk about some of the weirder toys that were available in the 1980’s. These are not toys that necessarily caused harm, unless we include emotional harm from playing with them. A lot of the toys in the 80’s were based off of TV shows, and the Wuzzles were no different.
They were a series of animal-hybrid toys that all had wings on their backs. These were a weird concept, and we may wonder now why we were so attracted to them in the first place. This concept extended to homes that they lived in and the food that they ate.
Popples were another odd stuffed toy that even I had as a little child, and I struggle to find the appeal of them. These toys were made to look almost like teddy bears, with tails that had a pom-pom on the end. These toys would also roll up to turn into a ball. The creator of this toy said she came up with the idea when she was rolling up socks.
Mattel made these toys in the late 80’s, and they were a hit. Toys like this would never fly today because the children are much more advanced than they were in the 80’s and are not easily impressed. Thanks again to the introduction of technology.
7 The Infaceables
This toy just looks scary and it is easy to see why it went out of style and never really came back. If you tried to give your little boy one of these, they may just hurl it out the window. These were released in 1984 by a company called Galoob. The toy's face, using a vacuum suction technique, would change between a human face and an animal face.
There was a whole line of good guys and bad guys, and they had a lot of accessories to add to the delight. We can’t say these toys are not creative, but they could definitely be the stuff of nightmares.
Are these monsters? Aliens? Animals? We don’t really know, but they were once very popular in the 80’s and would end up on a lot of children’s Christmas wish list. These toys were introduced as a way to piggyback onto the whole ‘He Man’ craze. There were evil characters that were packaged with demons, and good guys packaged with ‘Trobbits.’
Since this was the 80’s, there was also a TV show that went with these little creatures. The creatures were made after the TV show was cancelled, but they didn’t have a shelf-life that was much longer. They were forgotten about just as quickly as they were introduced.
5 Moondreamer Dolls
The struggle with toys for children today is that it takes a lot to impress a child who is growing up in today’s world. They need more stimulation and creativity which is why this next toy would never fly in the current market. Moondreamer dolls were made by Hasbro in 1986. They were simply little dolls that had hair that would glow in the dark.
There was nothing really special about them other than the hair, and that they came at a time when My Little Pony was popular. Unfortunately, Moondreamer dolls did not share the same fate as My Little Pony because they were not on the market very long at all.
Converters may have just been another version of a Transformer, but they may have come a little too late. Companies can only make so many versions of the same toy before children get bored. When you are going up against a bigger brand like the Transformers, you are never going to win. Converters were very simple, they were toys that converted into another toy.
These toys did not have an accompanying TV show which may be blamed for their failure. They also transformed into animals. Robot to animal did not appeal to the children of the market and the toy line was not around for very long.
3 Computer Warriors
The concept behind these toys is a little odd, and a much more advanced theory than any child should have to figure out. These toys were produced in the late 80’s by Mattel. The story behind them is that these figures were part of a group of evil troops. They would hide in everyday objects, like pop cans.
Since there was no TV show or anything to go with these toys, they faded out very quickly. There was one pilot episode of a show that aired briefly but that was it. This concept would never work in the political climate of the world today.
2 Food Fighters
We always tell our children never to play with their food, but it seems like a toy company wanted to make sure that this option was never taken away from children. Mattel produced this line of toys, called Food Fighters, in the late 80’s. There were two teams, the good: Kitchen Commandos and the bad: Refrigerator Rejects. These toys where designed as some of the most popular junk food items.
These toys never really took off, and they still wouldn’t do well today. They have essentially no story line and are just plain weird looking. Children would have no idea what to do with these guys.
1 My Child
Dolls have always and will always be one of the most popular toys. They are only getting better, with companies making more variety so that everyone can have a doll that looks just like them. Apparently, this was attempted before with the introduction of My Child. My Child were dolls that were manufactured by Mattel for only three short years.
From 1985 to 1988, children could get their hands on a doll that came in a variety of skin tones and hair colours. However, these dolls had a slightly unnerving look to them and didn’t prove to be very popular at all. There are still a few floating around for any collectors out there.